Getting a divorce in South Carolina can be a complex process. While most people wish to get their divorce over with and move on with their lives as quickly as possible, South Carolina divorce laws can complicate the procedure. Unfortunately, this means that legal cases are rarely quick, and South Carolina has many laws dictating waiting periods and other requirements for a divorce. The length of your divorce case can depend on many different factors.
Whether or Not Your Divorce is Based on “Fault”
A fault-based divorce in South Carolina may be filed in circumstances including adultery, abandonment, drug/alcohol abuse, or physical abuse. In these instances, individuals should meet with their lawyer and file for divorce as soon as they can. Fault-based divorce cases only have a 90-day minimum waiting period before a final hearing (trial) can be requested. In the case of a no-fault divorce, the state of South Carolina requires a one-year continuous separation period before either of the parties can file. Many people might choose to file a no-fault divorce if there has not been misconduct or if they do not want to prove misconduct as part of the court case. However, the only legal grounds for a no-fault divorce is you and your spouse living separately for one year prior to filing for divorce, which significantly delays initiating the process.
Is Your Divorce Contested or Uncontested?
Whether or not your divorce is contested or uncontested is one of the most important factors in determining how long the divorce process will take in South Carolina.
If you and your spouse agree on all relevant issues in your divorce – such as property division and child custody – you can file for an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support. An Order of Separate Maintenance and Support is a final court order that is granted if the parties have not been separated for a year, and it does not cover the issue of divorce or end the parties’ marriage. It can, however, make the one-year separation period easier on both parties by providing clear guidelines as to how property and responsibilities will be divided. In the state of South Carolina, an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support addresses issues such as child custody, visitation and support, property division, spousal support, and other issues beyond the actual divorce.
In South Carolina, a contested divorce arises where you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of separation. Couples might need to go through mediation or litigation to resolve the necessary issues, which can take significantly more time. Your case is then heard by a Judge, who will decide on a resolution to the issues or review and approve an agreement between the parties.
In certain exceptional cases, a couple's desire to fight each other may be greater than their desire to come to an agreement. This can result in a divorce that not only takes a great deal of time, but is also very expensive. These cases typically revolve around disputes regarding things like child support, custody, or alimony. South Carolina family courts will allow for a period of “discovery” - which permits each party to acquire evidence from their spouse. The entire process can take months and can be financially costly to both spouses.
After filing for divorce in South Carolina, the length and difficulty of the case is most effected by how the parties choose to handle the situation. The more amicable a couple can be with each other, the easier the process will be. Certain lawyers may even encourage their clients to battle their spouse over every aspect of the litigation. Some people think this is the best course of action, but in reality, it only drags out the divorce and costs the client more money. Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, save yourself money and time by reaching out to our South Carolina divorce lawyers. You can be sure that you are getting the best representation possible with Fender Law.
The Fender Law Firm handles all types of divorce cases in South Carolina. To speak with a Beaufort divorce attorney, call 843.379.4888 or contact us online today.